Words and images Michael South photography
Welcome back my fellow Spireites.
The league title is out the window.
Injuries are still a huge concern.
but at least the playoffs are still on…aren’t they?
At best, aiming to stay in the playoffs is the only realistic goal for the Spireites this season and that will take winning games outright to achieve. Given recent results, the limited games left this season and the less-than-ideal run of form since Cookies return, we should count our blessings to be even still in the playoffs in my opinion.
Since last month's article, most results haven't gone the Spireites way. Hence the title being out of reach now. The only win since the Boreham Wood game (at the time of writing) came when Maidenhead United paid us a visit. It took 76 minutes for the Spireites to make their mark after Asante was subbed on in the second half to score and take all three points.
Next up was an away trip to Altrincham which was, to be fair, just pure bad luck for Chesterfield. It ended with us losing 1-0 due to an average long-range shot hitting a divot in the turf just in front of Scott Loach and deflected over the diving keeper and into the back of the net. That was three points gone.
Next up came Notts County away which was live on BT Sports. This time we could only manage a 1-1 draw in front of the cameras, so just one point earned there. It was ironic though, that it could have been three points for CFC if Whittle, Chesterfield's only goal scorer on the day, hadn’t then given away a needless penalty which cost us the two points.
Ongoing injury crisis.
As I pointed out last month, when Whittle scores the first goal of the game, Chesterfield have had a player subbed off due to getting injured. There was Tshimanga and then McCourt a short while ago which has played a massive part and added to Paul Cook's player selection problem. Well, it happened again. During the Notts Co game (after Whittle scored) Grimes left the field injured in the second half. This does leave me thinking. If I was a Chesterfield player and Whittle scored, I’d ask to be subbed off to avoid injury and pain. I joke of course. No, I’d just wear bigger, thicker shin pads.
Depending on where the Spireites finish in the playoffs this season will determine if we play an extra playoff game or not. Finishing in second or third place we would only have to play one playoff match to get to the playoff final, a total of two games. Whereas if we finish the season in fourth, fifth, sixth or seven place, we will have to play two playoff matches to get to the playoff final, so three games in total. As we already have many players out injured, it would be ideal to finish in second or third place in the league come the 15 May. This would reduce the minutes on the pitch needed to gain promotion. With Tshimanga, our top goalscorer out till next season (still the National League’s top scorer with 24 goals I may add), we will need to rely on our limited and tired players to score the goals to secure Chesterfield FC League Two status next season. That is a tall order.
Will Paul Cook run the risk of playing half-fit players to help with the promotion hopes at the final hurdle?
Is Paul Cook doomed to follow in Jack Lester's and John Sheridan’s footsteps by returning to a club and failing to achieve what was expected of him based on his past success at the club?
If Cook doesn't achieve promotion this season you could argue it wasn't his team of players or his own squad that failed, it was James Rowes. Next season, be it in League Two or the National League, Cook will have an opportunity to mold his own team from scratch and ship in new players and release others who aren’t in his long-term plan.
Yes, currently there are limited players with a tight budget. There were also no players brought in by the end of March's transfer deadline. But should Cook have brought in any old player just to say he has signed someone? Afterwards Cook said he's not going to sign any players just for the sake of it and for me, this is a wise move. It follows in the Trusts ethics of the club's money management plan. The club's accounts did show last month that Chesterfield FC made a loss of £400,000 in income due to the Covid global pandemic as no gate receipts and the hospitality were affected. Fortunately, however, at the club’s AGM, a £1 million investment from two local Chesterfield businessmen was announced which will significantly help in the club's future.
So, with just over 6 weeks left until the last game of the season, will Chesterfield be in the playoffs fighting for that second-placed promotion spot? Watch this space…COYB’s!!!